“Come on, dollop head. I need you to recover. Listen to me, clotpole. I don’t care if you die. There are plenty of other princes. You’re not the only pompous, supercilious, condescending, royal… imbecile I could work for; the world is full of them. But I am going to give you one more chance.”
Me? Obsessed with a BBC show starring a lanky, pale Irish boy with sculpted facial features and piercing blue eyes? A show that takes all Arthurian legends and says, "to hell with them, we're going to have fun... occasionally homo-erotic fun, but in a family-friendly way..." and doesn't care what die-hard Arthurian critics say? A show that was designed for the non-snobs? Ha! How could I ever love such a show?
Yeah. I do. Oh-so-ever-loving much. What makes Merlin work for me is the dynamic between the characters. I don't care what color anyone's skin is, or what varying accent they carry, or that there's more sexual tension between Merlin and Arthur than any other characters -- I care that those dynamics work. As the show progresses, the cast and crew continue to work harder and harder at developing these characters even while dealing with ridiculous scenarios and written-into-a-corner plot devices.
What sells the show more than anything is Colin Morgan as Merlin. When he's silly it's adorable. When he's getting abused it's entertaining. When emotions get real, he brings the level of the entire show up with just a flicker of his eyes. He's got magic inside him to be sure -- the magic of performance. I hope someday there's a film or series written for two Irish brothers with Colin Morgan and Jonathan Rhys Meyers... of course then I'd have to watch every episode at least three times. Once for Colin, once for JRM and once for both of them... and maybe once more for actual plot.
Point is, as cheesy as a show like Merlin can be, it's also proof that solid acting and passionate creativity aren't limited to art-house pictures or series on AMC. Not every series needs to be a hard-hitting drama or high-concept comedy or time-jumping, fast-edited action-adventure.
Plus, there's the occasional very fun word thrown into dialogue. Like clotpole. Or dollop head. Or besotted. Or idiomatic...